BY JULIE JEFFERY MANWARREN
Something new is on the menu in the Abingtons.
Picciocchi’s Pasta, set to open Saturday, Nov. 16 in Summit Square Plaza, Clarks Summit, is the newest restaurant in town. Everything from the pasta machines to the ingredients and old-world recipes are from Italy. Even the owner, Stefano Picciocchi, is Italian.
“In Italy, we have a passion for food,” Picciocchi said. “My mom is a phenomenal cook. Food is prepared all day long in Italy. When you wake up in the morning, you are cooking.”
Learning to cook in his mother’s kitchen as a child, Picciocchi was later trained and mentored by a chef in Europe.
“I have higher standards because I have been trained by the best,” he said.
Picciocchi met his wife, Kristy in Italy in 2006 and they were married in 2007. The couple has an 11-year-old daughter and recently moved to Clarks Green from Genoa, Italy.
“For me, America means freedom and opportunity,” Picciocchi said. “I love Italy, but we wanted our daughter to grow up in America and have more opportunities. We have had this dream of opening a restaurant in America. Kristy and I have done so much already, and this is one more thing we are building together. Everything we are doing has been put into this. We love what we do. It wasn’t easy to leave Italy, but it was the right time for us.”
The new restaurant owner is excited to bring his Italian recipes to the states. Freshly made pasta cooked to al dente perfection and Picciocchi’s aromatic sauces will be on the menu. A filled pasta and baked pasta dish of the day will be served along with an al a carte menu that allows guests to choose from seven different pastas topped with a choice of six different home-made sauces. A creamy walnut sauce, meat sauce and, the chef’s favorite, a basil pesto sauce are among the choices on the menu at Picciocchi’s Pasta house.
The Picciocchi’s secret? Import everything they can. Their desire is to offer the Abingtons good, homemade pasta dishes that have simple, fresh ingredients.
“Everything in my restaurant comes from Italy. … The pasta machines are professional and custom,” Picciocchi said. “This restaurant is my passion.”
“We make everything here from scratch. No preservatives, no sugar, just good, quality ingredients,” Kristy Picciocchi said.
The Picciocchi’s explained that they are only serving pasta. Although some have said this limits them, the couple believes the options are endless with more than 220 different kinds of pasta that can be made with one machine.
There are 20 regions in Italy, and every region has its own unique product, a specialty it is known for. For Picciocchi’s home town of Genoa, it is pesto. Stefano developed recipes for his tomato and meat sauce, cream sauce and others, but his pesto sauce is his pride and joy.
“Here in America, we have to test our recipes with the water, with the humidity and with the ingredients. Everything changes the taste. Trust me. It isn’t easy,” Picciocchi said.
But the Picciocchis believe the Abingtons will benefit from a fresh, authentic Italian lunch option.
“We want to provide a quick option that is still healthy,” Kristy Picciocchi said. “Our pasta display will be in the front where customers can pick a pasta and it will be cooked right there in a pasta cooker. Then, they can choose a sauce. You can have homemade food that was made that same day.”
Picciocchi’s Pasta is a quick-service restaurant, offering convenient take out. If guests decide to stay, tables are available for dining in. Guests can watch pasta and sauce being made from scratch through windows looking into the Picciocchi’s Pasta kitchen. The owners invite customers to come see the process and taste the difference.
Kristy Picciocchi was born in New York and lived in Genoa, Italy from 2006 until their recent move.
“I moved here from the Old World,” she said. “It was refreshing to go backwards in many ways. In Italy, it’s about food, family and values. Family is important – it’s the most important thing. Then, what you are going to eat with your family is important. Meals are an event in Italy, and they can last for hours. The food you make for your family is your gift to your family. We want to bring that here.”
After years of dreaming and planning to come to America and bring the best from their kitchen, their family has finally come together. Stefano and Kristy Picciocchi shared it isn’t just about starting a business for them; it’s about loving what they do and sharing that love with others.
“It’s not important how long you live, but how well you live,” Stefano said.
Picciocchi’s Pasta, 100 Old Lackawanna Trail, Clarks Summit, will open on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 11 a.m. It will have free sample sizes for tasting until 2 p.m. and a gift for the first 100 guests. For more information, visit picciocchispasta.com.